Time after time Apple amazes! They amaze us with dazzling products and a creative CEO who sells them in a way that has the press and many of us consumers giddy with excitement. Is there a system behind that magic?
Carmine Gallo, is a communication skills coach for some of the world’s most admired brands, an Emmy award-winning television anchor and the author of several books. In addition to his works “Fire them Up” and “10 Simple Secrets of the World’s Greatest Business Communicators" Carmine will teach all of us some of the Apple magic in his just released, The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs.
Carmine, why Steve Jobs?
Steve Jobs is the most captivating communicators on the world stage. For more than three decades, he has elevated product launches to an art form. Name one other business leader who has some 40,000 YouTube links to sections of his keynote presentations? That reflects the intense interest that people around the world have in Jobs’ presentation style. Whether you’re a CEO, sales person, small business owner, entrepreneur or educator, you can learn something from the master.
What’s more important when making a presentation? Content or style?
One third of the book includes chapters on how Steve Jobs plans and creates mind-blowing presentations. The other two sections tackle everything from how to deliver the experience to refining and rehearsing the final presentation. So I guess “style” makes up two-thirds of the book. I would have to say “style” by a hair. But frankly, an engaging presentation will still fall flat without a good product or idea behind it. If you don’t have a great product, don’t waste your time on the presentation. Go back and fix your product!
Are the 4 are 5 things we must always remember?
I’ll give you three. First, stick to the rule of three. You see, every Steve Jobs presentations are divided into three (sometimes four) sections. Even when he reveals new features or products within a presentation, he will focus on three benefits. Three is a powerful number in drama, comedy, and an Apple presentation. As human beings, our brains recall information in “chunks” of three or four. Give someone too many points to remember and they won’t remember a thing. Secondly, think visually. Remove every slide with bullet points and replace those slides with a creative, visually descriptive way of conveying the information. Yes, this takes work but there are no bullets in a Steve Jobs presentation. Pictures trump words. And finally, create a “holy smokes” moment. This is the one moment that will leave your viewers talking over the water cooler the next day. For example, when Steve Jobs introduced the MacBook Air in January, 2008, he built up the drama by saying “It’s the world’s thinnest notebook.” He then walked to the side of the stage, picked up a manila inter-office envelope and pulled the new computer from inside. The crowd went nuts. No slide could have done it justice. Jobs created a moment that left people in the audience awed: “Holy smokes, that’s thin!”
What does Jobs do that others don’t?
Pretty much everything from start to finish. First, he plans presentations well before he opens the presentation software (Jobs uses Apple Keynote but most people use Microsoft PowerPoint which is a very powerful tool when used correctly). Jobs thinks, brainstorms, sketches and collaborates well before the first slide is created. Very few presenters do that. Secondly, as discussed, Jobs uses more pictures than words. The average PowerPoint slide has forty words. It’s hard to find seven words in ten slides during an Apple presentation. And thirdly, he rehearses…for many hours over many weeks. Few people practice as much as they should.
Who are other great presenters?
I enjoy watching Cisco’s John Chambers. He rehearses like crazy and never takes anything for granted. He also walks around the audience like a preacher. That takes confidence. I really enjoyed Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer at CES, January, 2009. He has passion, confidence, enthusiasm and great ideas. When she was at HP, Carly Fiorina was a highly polished presenter. There’s talk she might run for California senate so there will be more opportunities to watch her practice the art of communication.
Many folks are intimidated by public speaking. Any advice?
I spoke to a brain researcher who gave me a great piece of advice on the subject of nerves. He said that the human brain has evolved over millions of years seeking social acceptance. In other words, it’s natural to be self-conscious. The trick is not to eliminate fear because that’s going against nature. It’s more important to control that fear so it doesn’t detract from your performance. That’s an interesting distinction. And the best way to control the fear is to practice so much that you feel confident about every aspect of the presentation.
How does one get better at presenting?
Find every opportunity to give presentations: Chambers of commerce, rotaries, classes, etc. Steve Jobs is not a natural presenter. Nobody is born with a PowerPoint in their hands. Jobs practices relentlessly and has improved significantly every ten years. Each decade, he gets more polished, convincing and effortless.
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Carmine says the MacWorld 2007 Keynote was one of Job's best speeches ever. To check it out, Click Here